By Josh Moser

July 20 marks the 50th anniversary of U.S. astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin’s historic Apollo 11 walk on the moon.

“That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind,” Armstrong famously said, as an estimated 530 million viewers worldwide watched on their televisions.

The landmark moon landing was just one of many events that affected the Space Race, the Cold War competition between the United States and the then Soviet Union in the area of space exploration.

The quiz below, from the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio, provides an opportunity for you to test your knowledge of the Apollo 11 moon landing and the larger space race.

1. The Soviet Union was the first to launch an artificial satellite into space. In what year did this occur?

On October 4, 1957, a Soviet R-7 intercontinental ballistic missile launched Sputnik (Russian for “traveler”), the world's first artificial satellite and the first man-made object to be placed into the Earth's orbit. Sputnik's launch came as a surprise, and not a pleasant one, to most Americans. (History)

2. Who was the first person who went into space?

On April 12, 1961, aboard the spacecraft Vostok 1, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin becomes the first human being to travel into space. During the flight, the 27-year-old test pilot and industrial technician also became the first man to orbit the planet, a feat accomplished by his space capsule in 89 minutes. (History)

3. What was the name of the United States’ first manned mission into space?

Alan Shepard became the first American to reach space on Freedom 7 on 5 May 1961. (Wikipedia)

4. Under what president and in what year was the National Aeronautics and Space Administration created?

NASA was established in 1958, succeeding the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency was to have a distinctly civilian orientation, encouraging peaceful applications in space science. (Wikipedia)

5. Which president said: “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win?”

Kennedy's stirring, soaring "moon speech," delivered at Rice University in Houston, laid out why the president believed sending astronauts to Earth's nearest neighbor by the end of the 1960s was so important. (Space)

6. Which of the words below are unrelated to the first moon-landing mission?

"Houston, we have a problem" is a popular but erroneous quotation from the radio communications between the Apollo 13 astronaut John ("Jack") Swigert and the NASA Mission Control Center ("Houston") during the Apollo 13 spaceflight. (Wikipedia)

7. In 1957, the Soviet Union sent a dog into space. What was the dog’s name?

Laika, a mixed-breed dog, was the first living being in orbit. She was launched on the Soviet Union's Sputnik 2 mission in November 1957. (Space)

8. In which state is the Kennedy Space Center, NASA’s primary launch site, located?

Launch operations for the Apollo, Skylab and Space Shuttle programs were carried out from Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39 and managed by KSC. Located on the east coast of Florida, KSC is adjacent to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS). (Wikipedia)

9. Who was the first woman in space?

Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to fly to space when she launched on the Vostok 6 mission June 16, 1963. Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman to go into space. In 1963, she spent almost three days in space and orbited Earth 48 times in her space capsule, Vostok 6. (Space)

10. By the 1980s, the United States was collaborating with other countries to build an inhabitable International Space Station. Which of the following countries is not involved in the ISS?

An international partnership of space agencies provides and operates the elements of the ISS. The principals are the space agencies of the United States, Russia, Europe, Japan, and Canada. (NASA)

Answers: 1-B, 2-D, 3-C, 4-B, 5-A, 6-C, 7-D, 8-C, 9-B, 10-A

About the Author 

John Moser is professor of history at Ashland University and co-chair of the Ashbrook Center’s Master of Arts in American History and Government program for teachers. He wrote this for

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